20210920 Rodrigo Duterte
Duterte recently met with Arroyo and other former government officials while on a trip to Manila. Image Credit: AP

Rodrigo Duterte, the former Philippine leader who pivoted the country's foreign policy closer to China during his term, is being encouraged by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to come out of retirement and return to politics, according to Duterte's aide.

Duterte recently met with Arroyo and other former government officials while on a trip to Manila for a medical check up, according to a media statement on Monday from Senator Bong Go, who continues to serve as Duterte's aide.

"During the gathering, Arroyo was trying to convince Duterte to be active in politics again," Go said in the local language. The next midterm elections for local and congressional posts will be held in 2025.

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The 78-year-old Duterte became a private citizen after his term ended last year, but made headlines in July when he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. Xi expressed hope that Duterte will continue to foster cooperation between the two countries, according to a Chinese government readout after the meeting.

Duterte's visit came as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s government bolstered defense ties with the US and stepped up protests against Beijing's actions in the South China Sea. During his six years as president, Duterte warmed ties with China and oversaw a deadly war on drugs.

Arroyo, for her part, has been active as a lawmaker, but she recently lost a key post in the House of Representatives, which is headed by Marcos's cousin. Arroyo has been frequently seen with Duterte's daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, who quit the political party where Arroyo belonged shortly after the latter lost the key post, citing "political powerplay."

The former president, who was acquitted by the top court for plunder while Duterte was in office, was also recently photographed with former Vice President Leni Robredo, Marcos's rival at the last presidential elections.